Date of Award
Master of Arts
Christine Shepardson, Robert Bast
At the height of the Roman Empire, Roman citizens undoubtedly favored wine. As the Empire expanded into surrounding areas, increased exposure to beer even further solidified Romans’ preference for wine, not just as a drink, but as a symbol of Romanitas. Beer, brewed mostly in the provincial regions not climatically suited for grapes and wine, quickly became associated with barbarians and therefore stood in opposition to Roman values. As Roman authority waned in the West through the fifth and sixth centuries, Christianity remained powerful, and Christian sources betray an acceptance of beer, tacitly and later more explicitly. This ecclesiastical presence in the thoroughly Romanized provinces of the West paralleled the disappearance of the “barbarian” stigma from beer. Beer made its way into the culture of western Christendom, and it became an acceptable drink. This eventual acknowledgement of the merits of beer is an important and all-too-often overlooked indicator of the transition from the Roman Empire to the Middle Ages.
Strickland, Joseph Wayne, "Beer, Barbarism, and the Church from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 2007.